Our aim is to develop and produce engaged and impactful research that contributes to advancing social justice in our communities, locally, nationally and internationally. We are particularly interested in participatory and critical approaches that can generate knowledge alongside communities and in exploring how research can support community-led efforts. We aim to support and promote collaboration between academics, legal practitioners and activists. We welcome enquiries about possible future collaborative projects.

Current Projects

Understanding Local Legal Needs and Supporting Early Intervention

This project will investigate legal needs that have emerged in the wake of the pandemic, the impact of increased reliance on digital technology and the role of public legal education (PLE) in improving access to justice for marginalised groups.

Research Team

Dr Tara MulqueenLink opens in a new window, University of Warwick

Professor James HarrisonLink opens in a new window, University of Warwick

Dr Lisa WintersteigerLink opens in a new window, Law for Life: The Foundation for Public Legal Education

Project Dates

January 2022 - July 2023


Funded by the Nuffield FoundationLink opens in a new window

Project Briefings

  November 2022

Project Overview

Legal needs have historically exceeded the capacity of traditional legal services. Cuts to publicly funded legal services and the shift to digital services have exacerbated this dynamic. The COVID-19 pandemic increased pressure to develop alternative ways for marginalised groups and communities to access justice. This coincided with the shift to early intervention and PLE (Public Legal Education) to curtail the number of litigants and prevent legal disputes escalating to crisis. Digital solutions have been proposed as a useful method for conducting PLE and other forms of intervention. However, there is a dearth of research to inform the development of this work and the potential ways in which digital services could intensify difficulties faced by vulnerable people.

This project has two interlinked elements:

  • a local, qualitative legal needs study and
  • a public legal education workshop programme, both taking place in Coventry.

Working closely with the Central England Law CentreLink opens in a new window, the project will commence with the recruitment of a group of local ‘trusted intermediaries’, frontline organisations who work directly with the communities concerned in the study. Interviews with the organisations, as well as background data collection and a local stakeholder workshop will provide insight into legal needs and challenges in the community.

Following this the research team will commence a series of semi-structured interviews with key informants, service users identified through the trusted intermediary organisations. The interviews will explore the intersection between the reality of marginalised groups regularly being subjected to legal processes (welfare benefits system, care entitlements or maintaining stable housing) and the challenges they face in navigating these processes, with a particular emphasis on legal and digital capability.

Drawing on the findings of the legal needs study, a workshop programme will be developed for trusted intermediary organisations. PLE works best when tailored to its audience; unfortunately, trusted intermediaries rarely have legal training despite frequently encountering law-related problems. The workshops aim to increase trusted intermediaries’ legal capability and capacity to support their communities. Completion of the project will provide a basis of evidence and best practice to support future early intervention work. The research team will produce a series of outputs to disseminate findings among key stakeholders. A briefing report will be made publicly available, information and teaching resources will be developed, a digital storytelling film will be produced, workshops will be held to inform academic and policy audiences, and a dedicated website will share resources and updates.